33 Chapters
Medium 9781574416558

“Dusting Out.” Features and Fillers: Texas Journalists on Texas Folklore, PTFS LVI, 1999

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt and Kira E. Mort University of North Texas Press PDF

Dusting Out

Dallas Times Herald

Sunday, November 28, 1982

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During the early years of the Depression the Jim Talbots lived in a two-room shack on Grandad’s Washita River ranch in the Texas

Panhandle. Jim was Grandad’s cousin and he helped out on the place and he was peg-legged. He was a big strong man and he wore this regular strap-on peg leg, and I would have given my toy tractor to have seen him take it off and put it on again. As I remember the story—or imagined it—Jim Talbot got caught in the crossfire in a train robbery at a railroad station and stopped the bullet that eventually cost him his leg. That scene is as vivid in my mind now as it was fifty years ago.

Jim’s family consisted of Jim and Pearl and their three kids—an older girl and a little boy, and Frances, who was seven years old and my age. Girl that she was, she was the only child to play with for miles and miles of Panhandle plains, and she helped to keep away the high lonesomes that always hung over the prairie. Frances was red-headed and completely freckled and ready to explore the far reaches of any barn or plum thicket or rat’s nest. Neither of us could imagine a world without the other, and I loved her dearly.

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“Snakelore.” Paper Presented at the Eighty-Second Annual Meeting of the Texas Folklore Society, Sherman, Texas, April 10, 1998

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt and Kira E. Mort University of North Texas Press PDF

Snakelore

[Paper presented at the Eighty-Second Annual

Meeting of the Texas Folklore Society, Sherman, Texas,

April 10, 1998]

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And the serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall surely not die [from eating of the tree of knowledge]; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Soon thereafter, however, God discovers their transgression and asks the man, “Who told thee that thou was naked?”

And shamelessly the man said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

And the woman blamed it on the serpent: “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.”

And God put a mighty curse on the serpent: “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, and they shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise their heel.”

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“Waggoner’s Cowboys.” Some Still Do: Essays on Texas Customs, PTFS XXXIX, 1975

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt and Kira E. Mort University of North Texas Press PDF

Waggoner’s Cowboys

[Originally, photographs and text by Francis Edward

Abernethy]

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The cowboy is America’s most representative and most marketable symbol. Stories about him and his songs and his styles are popular from the Ginza to the Champs Elysees, and in the modern mind he has taken the place of the mounted knight on horseback. The cowboy image, even though it is frequently projected as a professional gunfighter, has as sound a basis in history as his chivalric counterpart. He grew out of the working cowboy who came into being in

Texas during the trail-driving days after the Civil War. He has come a long way since then and has made a greater impression on modern history and culture than has any other trade, craft, or profession.

The model for the modern cowboy symbol is not a complete figment of man’s imagination. The best of his kind is alive with all the hoped-for virtues on the big ranches of West Texas. And some of the best of this geographically select group are on the six-county

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“Give the World a Smile Each Day.” What’s Going On? (In Modern Texas Folklore) PTFS XL, 1976

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt and Kira E. Mort University of North Texas Press PDF

Give the World a Smile Each Day

[Originally, photographs and text by Francis Edward

Abernethy]

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I’ve been doing some serious looking around in the world of religious music, and I believe that modern gospel music is pulling ahead of the rest. University campuses are fielding large groups of young people singing modern up-beat religious songs that have a cool sound and a lot of youthful exuberance, but both the songs and the singers need some seasoning before they can be considered as influential factors in church singing. My favorite religious music,

Sacred Harp, hangs on with celestial tenacity, but it is rare and hard to find. I gave up on First Church singing years ago. Singing there is a formality presided over by huge multi-throated monsters of braying brass that drown out all attempts at human singing and the making of joyful noises. That leaves the field to gospel music and its singers, whose numbers are considerable and increasing.

Gospel music is hard to define for the non-gospel listener, but the Sunday singers know exactly what the music will be when they read that the county singing convention “urges all lovers of gospel music to attend” the fourth-Sunday singing. They know that gospel music is not “a passage from one of the four Gospels, chanted at

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“Now, Don’t That Beat All!” Hide, Horn, Fish, and Fowl: Texas Hunting and Fishing Lore, PTFS LXVII, 2011

Edited by Kenneth L. Untiedt and Kira E. Mort University of North Texas Press PDF

Now, Don’t That Beat All!

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A morning deer hunt is usually over around ten o’clock. Even the most patient of hunters is ready to come off his stand and go back to the camp by that time, particularly if he has not seen a hair. I carry coffee, a pork chop, and a Snickers bar, so I can last a little longer, if I have a mind to. Under the best of circumstances, somebody has stayed at the camp and cooked sausage and eggs with biscuits and gravy for his buddies when they come in from the woods.

If not, there might be a cold plate of last night’s fried venison backstrap still lying around. The coffee pot is always on, and the hunters report on their morning hunts, usually as they stand backed up to an outdoors log fire.

The hunting report is casual, but it should be accurate because the others listen and learn. “All I saw was a big old black fox squirrel and one armadillo and some fresh hog rubs where that trail comes out of the creek bottom.” Or, “When I finally turned around and saw him, he saw me and left the county.” You learn two things with those reports: 1) where to put a hog trap and 2) don’t turn around when you hear a deer walking up behind you. Reports lead to remembrances and remembrances lead to the kind of hunting tales that have been told after hunts ever since man got the genetic command to kill and eat meat or die.

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